I swear, it's another week, and I have another brag. We're closing in on three months of Project Fiona and I have yet another 'first' to knock off of the check list. Fiona went to her first hunter pace this weekend. I had enough experience with her outside of the ring to feel confident that she could handle it, but it was going to be a new experience for her. If nothing else, it would take care of her once-a-week requirement to do something off of the farm's property.
It was chilly and overcast, which is not a bad thing when spending the day out cantering and jumping on horses that are starting to get their winter coats in. In the case of at least one thoroughbred that was with us, his winter coat was completely in. He looked a bit like a Woolly Mammoth. Fiona was definitely up on her toes when I mounted (because that meant she had to stop eating, when she was eating she didn't care about the scenery at all). I had my customary moment of doubt when she jigged around on our way to warm up, but as soon as she realized the herd was not ditching her, it was right to work. She warmed up in the long, low frame that would place well in a hunter hack class. Everyone commented on how mellow she looked. I'm hopeful that the photographer got some pictures of her.
I went out with a friend and her big warmblood who was also on his first hunters pace. We're not sure how the two green beans ended up going out together, but it was a perfect pairing. They had gone out trail riding together and knew each other pretty well. My friend had taken her boy out at Beginner Novice, so most of the fences were perfectly doable for them. Some of the more inviting fences lured me and Fiona in, so she has hopped over Beginner Novice height fences as well as the baby stuff now. The only time she hesitated was for a bridge over the river. It was the noise of the water moving under the bridge that worried her. I thought I was on a dancing horse for a moment when she tried to look between the boards while following our brave warmblood friend. She tried to keep as few hooves on the bridge as possible, which was a bit alarming from the rider's perspective.
There were two highlights for the trip:
1. When we were trotting side by side with the 18h warmblood and she was able to match his trot. It was a big trot for her and some collection for him, but it was just kind of fun and she really had her motor going to pull that off. I wish the photographer was around for that. They're both liver chestnut and both have blazes. Not that they look a thing a like, but maybe as his mini-me?
2. Cantering over fence 20, a decent sized log, and turning back to fence 21. It was a bending line at a close distance through the trees, probably four strides, a real challenge, and Fiona ate it up. She wanted to know where the next one was. We came rocketing out of the trees and jumped the final hedge heading to the finish line and she felt like a super star. A tired one, but still very impressive.
She has another field trip planned for Friday with an all day trail ride. We also move to the winter barn this weekend, putting us indoors for the winter. I'll have to buy a lot of winter gear and learn how to ride in the snow. I can't imagine the Princess allowing me to ride her in an arena for months on end. She's very good at making her irritation known. My hip is still aching from her comments in our last lesson over gymnastics. The princess does not do bounces, thank you very much.
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